Clarendon College welcomes Tex Buckhaults as President

Tex Buckhaults

John Lee

After the departure of former President Dr. Robert Riza, Tex Buckhaults was named Interim President around Thanksgiving of last year. 

The institution dropped the “interim” and he became President on July 1.

While this is Buckhaults’ first time serving in this capacity, he has a long background at the community college.

After graduating from West Texas A&M University in 1989 and receiving his master’s, Buckhaults taught in McLean from 1992-96. While living in McLean, he worked at Region 16 Education Service Center in Amarillo from 1996-1999. But while at Region 16, he started as an adjunct professor at Clarendon College Pampa Center, teaching computer science.

In Spring 1999, he was hired full-time as an instructor teaching computer science and mathematic. In July 2001, he became the Chief Academic Officer at Clarendon College and moved to Clarendon.

In 2007, he became the Chief Student Officer. In 2012, he became in charge of institutional research and grants.

In 2017, Buckhaults was named Executive Vice President, overseeing all aspects of student life and academics.

Buckhaults decided to go for the President position after looking at all of his experience with the institution.

“Having seen both sides, academic and student, I felt like I had some service I can offer to the college and some benefits,” Buckhaults said. 

After six years under Dr. Riza, Buckhaults plans to build on what he accomplished only to grow the college more.

“What we’re doing now to further grow those things (what Dr. Riza did) is trying to target some things here in the local community to expand career and vocational education,” Buckhaults said. “We’re working closely with the industry reps, Pampa ISD and Dr. (Tanya) Larkin’s crew to grow industrial maintenance expansion and welding expansion.”

The College is also working closely with the Pampa Center Foundation to build a water well to help with irrigation on the Clarendon College grounds. 

In a post-COVID-19 world, the college has upgraded their cleaning procedures.

“We purchased seven deep cleaners and got them in before we went in to lockdown and were already fogging every classroom at least once a day,” Buckhaults said. “We have continued that and while Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines have changed.”

The College is also looking to purchase some trees to put on the campus grounds in memoriam of Don Lane, who was instrumental in getting the institution in Pampa.

“I personally like red oaks,” Buckhaults said. “I know he (Lane) was a graduate of University of Oklahoma where the entire campus is covered with red oaks. We haven’t started the fundraiser yet, but we will.”

Also as a result of COVID-19, funding and keeping enrollment up has become a major challenge for Clarendon College.

“Under Dr. Riza the enrollment was six to nine percent/year,” Buckhaults said. “That was driven by dual-credit. We need to try and keeping our head count up. Head count is fantastic and a great indicator, but it depends on how many classes students are taking.

“If you have 100 part-time students each taking two classes, 100 looks like a great number. But if you have 50 students taking four classes, those are comparable. My administration is trying to focus on maintaining the head count but increasing the hours.”

Buckhaults also looks to continue to grow the relationship with area school districts, including Pampa ISD.

“We rely on Pampa ISD to feed us students,” Buckhaults said. “That is the primary source of our students in Gray County: Pampa, Lefors and McLean. Obviously White Deer and Panhandle provide us students, as well. Pampa ISD is obviously our largest provider of students. We want to make sure we can get them dual-credit academic or vocational courses.”

Buckhaults would also like to work with Pampa ISD to share facilities and resources for their students.

“We want to utilize our empty classrooms when they have students,” Buckhaults said. “And if they have spaces we could use, such as the library, they have a fantastic library at Pampa High School. We already have an arrangement with Lovett Memorial and we utilize that. But anything we can do to help students learn, we want to do that.”

The College is also working with White Deer Land Museum to work together on including the Red River Wars in their Texas History curriculum.

Buckhaults grew up in Walsh, Colo. in Southeastern Colorado and graduated from Walsh High School in 1985.

“With the name Tex, I got here as fast as I could,” Buckhaults said. 

Buckhaults is married to his wife of 27 years, Dollie, and the pair have six children and several who were foster children. The have numerous grandchildren from 10 months to 15 years old.

For more information on Clarendon College call 806-665-8801.

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